Sweet Sausage & Penne in a Vodka Cream Sauce

Sweet Italian sausage is tossed with penne pasta and tomato vodka cream sauce in a lovely comforting dish that we enjoy for both quiet evenings in as well as for entertaining.

Sweet Sausage & Penne in a Vodka Cream Sauce - Sweet Italian sausage is tossed with penne pasta and tomato vodka cream sauce in a lovely comforting dish that we enjoy for both quiet evenings in as well as for entertaining.

Now I know that I promised you a lunch recipe every Wednesday this month, but time got away from me over the past two weeks. Lots of travel and house guests this month has left me feeling like I’m constantly playing catch up. So instead of a classic lunch recipe, I’m taking a post that I had prepared for back to school and decided to share it with you a bit earlier.

But don’t worry – it you’re still wanting lunch inspiration, this recipe came from one of my favorite dishes to pick up and take for lunch during crazy weeks. There’s a chain grocery store in my area that is known for it’s prepared foods. They have a huge buffet that people love for lunches and dinners, and an amazing catering menu that I’ve ordered from for parties. But when my husband goes out of town? I head to the section with prepackaged, made-in-store entrees. While maybe not the cheapest around, they’re convenient and way healthier than the stuff I’d get at work. I load up my basket with enough premade entrees for lunch and dinner while my husband is out of town – those little dishes totally make the week alone with both kids so much easier and less stressful.


Sweet Sausage & Penne in a Vodka Cream Sauce - Sweet Italian sausage is tossed with penne pasta and tomato vodka cream sauce in a lovely comforting dish that we enjoy for both quiet evenings in as well as for entertaining.

One week earlier this summer, we hit on one of those crazy periods. I went looking for my favorite prepared meal – a pasta dish with sweet Italian sausage and a vodka cream sauce – but it wasn’t on the menu at the grocery store that week. I was so disappointed that I decided that it was time to recreate the dish myself. I don’t know why I waited so long. This dish turned out perfectly. It was fairly easy, came together in roughly 30 minutes (hello, weeknight dinner!), and was just as good – if not better – than the store’s version. I bumped up the amount of sausage by a little, both because we like the extra meat and because the package I purchased was a bit more. I also folded in extra mozzarella cheese to thicken the sauce a bit. All in all, it was a great meal, and I have a new dinner that I’ll be adding to my rotation. And knowing how easy it is, I’ll take the time and make this next time my hubby goes out of town, rather than buying the premade versions.

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Sweet Sausage & Penne in a Vodka Cream Sauce - Sweet Italian sausage is tossed with penne pasta and tomato vodka cream sauce in a lovely comforting dish that we enjoy for both quiet evenings in as well as for entertaining.

Sweet Sausage & Penne in a Vodka Cream Sauce

Sweet Italian sausage is tossed with penne pasta and tomato vodka cream sauce in a lovely comforting dish that we enjoy for both quiet evenings in as well as for entertaining.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Total Time 30 minutes
Author Liz

Ingredients

  • 1 - 1 1/3 lb. sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 shallots minced
  • 3/4 c. vodka
  • 1 c. chicken stock
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 oz. pasta I use whole wheat penne
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. fresh basil about 20 leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella

Instructions

  1. In a large, heavy bottomed pot set over medium heat, saute sausage, breaking up into small pieces. When almost completely browned, add garlic and shallots, sauteing for another few minutes until sausage is browned completely and garlic and shallots have begun to soften.
  2. Slowly, add vodka, stirring and scraping bottom of the pan to get any extra bits up. Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by half. Add chicken stock and crushed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper (I used a large pinch of each). Stir, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, before lowering heat to keep warm.
  3. While sauce is simmering, preheat oven to broil and cook pasta according to package. Then drain.
  4. When pasta is almost ready, increase heat to low and stir in cream and basil. Add pasta. Fold in 1 c. mozzarella. Top pasta with remaining 1/2 c. pasta and broil for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.
  5. Serve immediately, with fresh garlic bread and/or a side salad.

Recipe Notes:

  • I used my Le Creuset dutch oven (<- affiliate link) to make the sauce. Because it’s a heavy pot, it cooked up very quickly with minimal sticking, but you could also use a regular pot/pan.
  • Make Ahead: Do everything up through topping the pasta with mozzarella. Transfer to a large Pyrex or other fridge/oven safe dish. Then top with remaining 1/2 c. mozzarella, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When ready to serve, cook in an oven at 375F, covered with foil, for 45-60 minutes. Remove foil in last 10 minutes of cooking, to melt the cheese.
  • Vodka Cream Sauce adapted from Rachel Ray.
Sweet Sausage & Penne in a Vodka Cream Sauce - Sweet Italian sausage is tossed with penne pasta and tomato vodka cream sauce in a lovely comforting dish that we enjoy for both quiet evenings in as well as for entertaining.

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10 thoughts on “Sweet Sausage & Penne in a Vodka Cream Sauce”

  1. I am ALL about this recipe! SO delish! Sausage and vodka cream sauce? Sign me up! Thank you for sharing it with us at the Whimsical Wednesdays Link Party. Have a wonderful week!

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